Brighton lead way for return of fans with plan to host crowd pilot
Brighton are front-runners to become the first Premier League club to welcome back spectators when the Government announces more details on the resumption of crowd pilots this week.
Whitehall sources confirmed proposals to allow 2,500 fans into the Amex Stadium for pre-season fixtures had been considered as part of plans which could also include crowds at Women’s Super League games and the FA Trophy and FA Vase finals at Wembley in the coming weeks.
If the first pre-season trial at the Amex goes ahead without problems this weekend against undeclared opponents, another one will be arranged for next month, with potentially double the number of fans. Covid-19 rates are on the increase again across many parts of England, but Government and sport remain determined to open up most sporting arenas from Oct 1.
The FA Trophy and FA Vase finals later next month would host the biggest pilots of all, with up to 10,000 supporters in the stadium – and with fans attending from more than one club.
The first outdoor sporting crowd will be in Scotland, however, with Friday’s Pro14 rugby match between Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors being played in front of 700 supporters at Murrayfield.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport remains hopeful that supporters will return from October – as announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month – despite the postponement of test events in other sports.
The Government has set a limit of 30 per cent capacity when football fans return to stadiums. That ceiling is expected to be challenged by the Premier League.